OAKDALE — Sierra High’s girls basketball team probably best defines what has been a wild Valley Oak League race this year, as it split a regular-season series with a third postseason contender by falling to Oakdale 44-18 Tuesday.
The Timberwolves (6-7, 11-12 overall) defeated Oakdale (8-5, 17-6) 57-53 in overtime at home Jan. 15. They also split their two-game series with Ceres and second-place Sonora, both of which they defeated on the road.
But Sierra lost more than just a game Tuesday as its own playoff hopes begin to dim with the regular season winding down.
Junior forward Alysia Atkins, the team’s spark plug on both ends of the floor, suffered a concussion 8 seconds into the second half while attempting to take a charge.
Sierra trailed 21-7 at halftime, and Atkins’ injury only made matters worse.
“The wind was never in our sails to begin with,” Sierra coach Steve Unterholzner said. “We just really didn’t come to play basketball, and they did.”
Center Jaslynn Liotard paced Sierra with seven points. Cassandra Clark led Oakdale with 16.
Sierra is in for another battle with crosstown rival Manteca visiting Thursday and is in must-win mode as it sits on the playoff bubble.
With 16 teams qualifying for the postseason, Sierra is No. 18 on the latest release of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff ratings. Manteca is 13th.
CERES — Behind the post play of 6-foot-2 center Jamie Beck and 5-10 Jode Johnson, Ceres (7-7, 12-13) imposed its will from the outset against Lathrop’s first-year varsity quad and took a 33-6 lead into halftime.
The Spartans were held to just a single point in the second half, and freshman point guard Jazlyn Simon was their only double-digit performer with 12 points.
Beck finished with 20, and Johnson 17.
“We were just flatter than pancakes in the first half,” Lathrop coach Ed Fang said. “And we have no answer for strong post players like Beck and Johnson.”
Lathrop (0-14, 2-22) heads to Weston Ranch on Thursday.